Understanding & Articulating Expectations In B2B Settings

In any enterprise business account managers need to deal with clients. The key to success in any client engagement is to have a clear understanding of expectations and goals before the engagement begins. Once a clear definition of success has been established it is the account manager’s responsibility to properly manage expectations in pursuit of these goals. I believe the best way to communicate goals and expectations is through storytelling and communicating in a consultative fashion.

A successful account manager should use storytelling as a tool to communicate the strategic plan. Remember back to your childhood and the key to any good story is the storyteller’s ability to craft a story what is relevant and relative to their audience. The same concept holds true when crafting a business case. The account manager needs to understand the client’s audience and articulate it to them on their terms. Account managers need to provide valuable insights that matter to the client and give insight on their overall business strategies. The best way to do this is to develop a story that connects your goals to your client’s emotions in a way that establishes value and holds their attention. Simply reporting cut and dry metrics will not do the trick. I suggest using a STAR (situation, task, action result) method to communicate your point. Using a simple method such as this allows you to explain your findings, how and why your performance is the way it is and what the next steps should be going forward.

An example of an ineffective business story is, “your account had 500 clicks and 60 conversions.” This gives the client results without any facts and data. An example of an effective business story is, “your account had 500 clicks and 60 conversions.” This is due to the fact that 30% of our conversions came from desktop and 70% came from mobile. To capitalize on this changing dynamic going forward we will optimize our budget towards our mobile audience, because, statistics show that they are a more engaged consumer for your business. We believe that this will drive more mobile conversion in the future. In this example it is clear that the business story provided the situation, task, action and anticipated result.

Storytelling can be used in conjunction with consultative marketing. Consultative marketing is simply about understanding the clients pains and issues while developing strategic marketing plans that seek to alleviate and or solve those issues. Clients are hiring you to give them guidance and insight on how to accomplish their overall objectives or business goals.  Waiting for clients to help you develop a strategic marketing plan does not build a client’s confidence. Clients are looking and PAYING for you to take the lead and bring innovative ideas and solutions to the table. Look beyond what the client is actually saying. Understand what their true fears and hopes are when working with your company. If you are able to properly do this I guarantee that this will lead to a more symbiotic relationship. It will also be better capturing the client’s attention and trust versus if you were simply solving for an external pain.

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